MELBOURNE, Australia - Despite being one of the best tennis players in the world, Simona Halep is in an unenviable position when it comes to Grand Slam finals.
The Romanian has competed in three major finals in her career, and after losing to Caroline Wozniacki, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4 in Saturday's final at the Australian Open, has dropped to 0-3 in such matches.
All three matches have gone the distance, but Halep has come up short in all three.
"I'm really sad I couldn't win it. I was close again, but the gas was over in the end," Halep said in her post-match press conference on Saturday evening. "She was better. She was fresher. She had actually more energy in the end.
"I did 100% what I could today. That's why I can say that I'm not sad for that. I'm sad that I lost the match, I was not the winner. But, you know, life goes on. For sure in the future, if I keep working like this and I keep playing like this, I will be in a good position again."
After logging over 13 hours on court in seven matches - which included two victories in which she had to save match points against Lauren Davis (third round) and Angelique Kerber (semifinals) - Halep had little left in the tank as a grinding final match against Wozniacki went on.
Though she twice came from a break down in the deciding set, and even broke serve to move ahead 4-3, she did not win another game from there as the Dane won her first Grand Slam title and supplanted Halep at the top of the rankings.
As it happened: Wozniacki crowned queen of Melbourne, wins first Grand Slam
"I was really tired. I had so many problems at my feet, pain everywhere. I think I did pretty well with all the things that were going on," she said. "After the first set, I just was out. I don't know what happened. No energy, no power - but then I just said that I have to hit all the balls, and then I could take the second set.
"I came back in the third set, but when I had to serve for 5-3, the gas was gone, so I couldn't make it. It's a bit sad."
Twice previously, Halep fell in finals at Roland Garros: in 2014, she fell in an over-three-hour match against Maria Sharapova, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–4; and last year, she fell in shock fashion to Jelena Ostapenko, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, from a set and 3-0 up.
"I think [this match] was different with everything. I played better. I didn't move as I wanted because I couldn't, but the game was okay," she said.
"The mental part was okay, so I think I have improved a lot this tournament. I'm leaving Australia with many good thoughts and many positive things because what I've done these two weeks I never did, me, in the past - so it's okay."
She will be World No.2 behind Wozniacki when the new rankings are released on Monday.
"I felt ready [to win] but the body was not ready because I had so many long matches," she said. "The muscles were tired. The feet were not good enough. But mentally I was ready. I feel that I can face any challenge. I can play against anyone. I can win against anyone."